Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor

By Russell S. Bonds

Selected through Civil conflict Interactive as one of many most sensible Civil battle Books of All Time

"The definitive booklet concerning the nice Locomotive Chase."—Charlotte Observer

"Magnificent and definitive."—Wall road Journal

"The nice Locomotive Chase has been the stuff of legend and the darling of Hollywood. we now have a high-quality heritage of the Andrews Raid. Russell S. Bonds' stirring account makes transparent why the raid failed and what occurred to the raiders."—James M. McPherson, writer of conflict Cry of Freedom, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

"In this gripping, smooth-running account, Bonds zooms easily from broad-stroke overviews of Civil battle technique to minute-by-minute scrutiny of unfolding occasions at the flooring. He units up the tale with a speedy, punchy define of the 1st yr of the battle. What follows is a fast paced, super well-told story of espionage, trap, trial and escape."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Phenomenally good written, prepared, and presented."—Civil struggle Books and Authors

On April 12, 1862—one yr to the day after accomplice weapons opened on castle Sumter and commenced the Civil War—a tall, mysterious smuggler and self-appointed Union undercover agent named James J. Andrews and nineteen infantry volunteers infiltrated north Georgia and stole a steam engine known as the General. Racing northward at speeds forthcoming sixty miles an hour, slicing telegraph traces and destroying tune alongside the way in which, Andrews deliberate to open East Tennessee to the Union military, removing males and matériel from the accomplice forces in Virginia. in the event that they succeeded, Andrews and his raiders may swap the process the conflict. however the General's younger conductor, William A. Fuller, chased the stolen educate first walking, then via handcar, and at last aboard one other engine, the Texas. He pursued the General till, working out of wooden and water, Andrews and his males deserted the doomed locomotive, finishing the experience that might quickly be well-known as the nice Locomotive Chase. yet the ordeal of the warriors concerned used to be simply starting. within the days that undefined, the "engine thieves" have been hunted down and captured. 8 have been attempted and finished as spies, together with Andrews. 8 others made a bold break out to freedom, together with assisted through a community of slaves and Union sympathizers. for his or her activities, ahead of a private viewers with President Abraham Lincoln, six of the raiders grew to become the 1st males in American heritage to be provided the Medal of Honor—the nation's optimum ornament for gallantry.

Americans north and south, either on the time and ever considering that, were astounded and desirous about this bold raid. yet before, there has now not been a whole background of the full episode and the fates of all these concerned. in line with eyewitness money owed, in addition to correspondence, diaries, army files, newspaper studies, deposition testimony and different fundamental resources, Stealing the final: the nice Locomotive Chase and the 1st Medal of Honor by way of Russell S. Bonds is a mix of meticulous learn and compelling narrative that's now thought of to be the definitive background of "the boldest experience of the war."

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Delivered to the lodge, he chanced on basic Leadbetter seated in a chair, donning an old school Dutch knit cap. a little bemused and much from intimidated, Knight inspiration his inquisitor “looked extra like a beer beer signal than like a normal. ” Knight informed Leadbetter that he was once from Kentucky and were making his technique to Chandler Springs, Alabama. requested what he deliberate to do there, the irreverent engineer answered that if he beloved where, he proposal he simply could purchase it. on no account amused, Leadbetter fired questions at Knight for part an hour and heavily tested the wear and tear on his boots, that have been significantly scuffed from his days within the rocky North Georgia terrain. (Alf Wilson used to be subjected to the same shut visible inspection; he claimed that Leadbetter pointed out him and Mark wooden as Yankees by way of removal their hats and pointing to their light complexions as a telltale signal of the around, short-brimmed law caps worn by means of Federal infantry. ) Knight used to be then proven the door, and he too used to be surprised to discover Andrews status out within the hall. The engineer controlled to maintain his composure, he later stated, “but i believe if I have been struck with seven varieties of lightning, i wouldn't have felt any longer streaked than I did simply at that second. ”3 Andrews after all had pointed out himself to Dr. Parks upon his seize, which used to be simply as well—the Kentuckian was once widely recognized from his contraband company during this a part of Tennessee and could were well-known quickly adequate in any occasion. a radical seek earlier than basic Leadbetter printed a large number of accomplice funds, which with his enforcing demeanor and his ivory-handled Colt pistol branded the civilian secret agent within the minds of the Confederates because the chief of the raid. Following his viewers with Leadbetter, Andrews used to be taken besides Ross and Wollam to the detention center, the place previous Swims greeted them on the gate, jangling his keys. the 3 have been taken into the upstairs mobile, the place Swims used to be informed to place them “in the opening. ” Unlocking the capture door, the jailer cried “Look out lower than! ” and slid a ladder down into the distance. The light, upturned faces of the captives lower than have been slightly obvious, and a scorching, putrid stench rose from the blackness. Andrews, who had confronted a myriad of perils long ago and could later meet the hangman with out flinching, balked, for as soon as, on the sight of the dungeon lower than. “That isn't any position to place a man,” he protested. “Let us stay awake the following for awhile. ” Swims answered, “It is the easiest we will do now, yet will do greater afterwhile,” and the 3 males have been compelled down the ladder. four The Andrews Raiders may spend approximately 3 weeks trapped in Swims’s gap and could carry frightful stories of the ordeal for the remainder of their lives. Wilson and wooden have been the final to be introduced in, and Alf might bear in mind the “sepulchral voices and specter-like varieties” that greeted them from the gloom lower than as they descended into the suffocating enclosure. The basement mobile used to be darkish and of unfortunate dimensions, measuring 13 ft sq. and 13 toes excessive, and it held approximately dozen men—several East Tennessee Unionists and a runaway slave by means of the identify of Aleck were incarcerated there, notwithstanding they have been displaced upstairs one after the other because the extra infamous “Engine Thieves” arrived.

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